In today’s Second Reading Saint Peter reminds us that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of [God’s] own.” This, of course, is a consequence of our baptism, when we were consecrated in Christ to become “living stones” to be “built into a spiritual house.” Who should dwell in this spiritual house but Jesus himself, for we have become his body, the Church! This consecration is expressed in the baptism of an infant when the newly-baptized child is anointed on the crown of the head with sacred chrism with the words: “[God] now anoints you with the Chrism of salvation, so that you may remain as a member of Christ, Priest, Prophet, and King, unto eternal life.” This is when we became truly “Christian”; for “Christ” means the “Anointed One” and we are anointed in him. Baptized and reborn in him by water and the Spirit (cf. John 3:5) we share in his royal, prophetic priesthood.
Now that we have begun the second half of the Easter season, the liturgy shifts from looking back at the Easter event and draws our attention forward to its fulfillment in heaven. In today’s Gospel we learn that it is through Christ alone that we can come to the Father: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It is through our baptismal union with Christ, the Good Shepherd, with whom we walk through the “dark valley” of this world (cf. Psalm 23:4) that we hope to come one day to the place the Lord has prepared for us in his Father’s house, where he has gone before us. Our baptismal union with Christ is renewed in all the other sacraments we receive, but especially in confirmation, penance and the eucharist. We exercise our baptismal priesthood when we offer the eucharistic sacrifice in union with and under the direction of the ordained priest, and we are nourished by the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation in holy communion.
Finally it is through Christ, the Word made flesh (cf. John 1:14), that we come to know the Father. Jesus says to Philip in today’s Gospel: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”
Today is Mother’s Day. President Woodrow Wilson made this a national holiday in 1914. Mother’s Day has its origins in Greek springtime pagan celebrations in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods. It spread into Europe and with Christianity became a celebration in honor of “Mother Church,” who gives us new life through baptism and protects us from harm through the grace of the sacraments. This eventually combined with an English observance of “Mothering Sunday,” when servants were given the day off to spend with their mothers, and became a day in honor of natural mothers as well. So the life-giving and nurturing characteristics of motherhood and of the Church complement one another and are appropriately observed during May, the month of Our Lady, Mother of the Church and Queen of Families.
Pray the rosary this week for mothers, living and deceased. Pray for Holy Mother Church, and for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray also for good weather for the spring planting and growing season. Pray for all who are experiencing turmoil in their lives for whatever reason, especially because of all the disruption caused by the current crisis; and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.